Tinnitus – let’s talk about it…

Feb 7, 2024News

Tinnitus Australia has launched a national campaign during Tinnitus Awareness Week (February 5-11th), so let’s get talking about Tinnitus! So many people are unaware of what it is and the impact it can have. 1 in 3 people in Australia have experienced tinnitus at some point in their life and about one in six live with constant tinnitus.

Tinnitus – what is it? Tinnitus, often described as ringing in the ears, is a hearing condition where people hear noises, hisses or hums that are not present in the real world. Tinnitus can be constant or occasional, loud or soft, mild or severe, and can be heard in one or both ears or in the head. Tinnitus can happen to people of any age or background. About 2% of Australians (or 500,000 people) find their tinnitus very distressing.

Tinnitus – what causes it? Tinnitus is a symptom of other underlying conditions, such as hearing loss, ear injury, neck or jaw issues, circulatory system disorders or exposure to loud and prolonged noise. Most commonly it starts because of a change in the ear, but it’s actually generated by the brain. For some people, the impact of tinnitus can be greater than the impact of the underlying condition that causes it.

Tinnitus – what’s the impact? Sometimes our brain decides that tinnitus sounds are a threat, so it saves and highlights these messages in the brain’s emotional control centre. For some people, the impact of tinnitus on a person’s life can be devastating, increasing risk of depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. There is help. Reach out to your GP, Shout Hearing or Tinnitus Australia for more information and support.

Tinnitus – how is it managed? The more we understand our tinnitus, the more we can regain control and actively work towards reducing its impact on our life. The first step is to get in touch with your GP and Shout Hearing who can check your hearing, help you understand your tinnitus and discuss a management plan. You may also be referred to an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor to check if there are any medical causes for the tinnitus. Your own tinnitus experience will help your healthcare provider direct you to the best management options. If your tinnitus changes with neck movements, you might see a physiotherapist. If you have jaw pain or clicking, you might see a dentist. If you have hearing loss, you may see an audiologist. For many people, seeing a psychologist or hearing care professional who specialises in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) could be the best approach.

Tinnitus – what can you do? It is important to take care of your ears to reduce the risk of tinnitus. Being frequently exposed to loud noise such as loud music concerts, machinery, power tools, or even a lawnmower can cause ringing in your ears. Reduce this risk by wearing hearing protection. Wearing earmuffs or earplugs may be adequate however if you find they are not all that effective for your specific needs, make an appointment with Shout Hearing to support you in finding the best hearing protection for you.

Tinnitus – let’s talk about it. Talking about Tinnitus and sharing your experience with others is an important part of raising awareness. If you have tinnitus, talk about it with the people around you and reach out to your GP, Shout Hearing and Tinnitus Australia for support.

*For more information on how Tinnitus Australia are promoting Tinnitus Awareness
  visit https://tinnitusaustralia.org.au

Karen Greenhalgh
Clinical Audiologist | Director
Shout Hearing Healthcare